Suspiciously based on ‘true events’, The King Maker follows Fernando De Gaman (Gary Stretch), a Portuguese soldier, as he seeks revenge and fortune in the orient. Finding more than he bargained for after he is tossed ashore after a violent storm the film shows his ascendancy from intruder to royal bodyguard via meeting love interest Maria (Cindy Burbridge). Amidst his tale lies the story of Queen Sudachan (Yoe Hassadeevichit) whose murderous intentions see her family killed in favour of getting an unknown man to succeed the throne.
From the off any hopes of a thrilling history-based adventure are quashed. Bombarded with poor CGI and a questionable script, viewers will find themselves reaching for the off button pretty quickly. Hope comes in the form of John Rhys-Davies, here playing Phillippe, Maria’s father who Fernando believes killed his father years before, but even he struggles against the film’s poor dialogue. The words are wooden and the pigeon olde English used is cringe worthy.
The film’s low budget is evident throughout – the repeated shots of the small crowds are wearisome whilst the poor sound dubbing soon becomes grating. The fight scenes aren’t exactly up to 300 standards whilst the appearance of the the King of Siam’s suspiciously non-oriental brother adds to film’s woes.
Directionless and uncompelling, the film veers off course, never quite knowing whether to stick it out with Fernando and his questionable acting or to devote its time to the king’s woes. The film ends with a fight to the death that results in an unsurprising twist, whilst the implementation of such a fight sees loved ones threatened with death at the feet of the court’s elephants, adding a fresh layer to the ridiculous story that has preceded it.
The film lies somewhere between afternoon TV drama and historical spoof. Whilst the story lurches from one disastrous cliché to the next, the acting slowly decays leaving the audience dumbfounded. The six year gap between production and being released on DVD suggests a hope on the distributor’s part that people may have forgotten The King Maker the first time round.